Jordy Smith (pictured) always a safe bet.
Jordy Smith (pictured) always a safe bet.

Open Thread: Comment Live, Day Two of the Billabong Pipeline Pro!

Thrills, spills, chills (plus Kelly Slater)!

Well yesterday was just a complete and absolute joy was it not? Wrapped beautifully by JP Currie, read here, there was ample surf, fine performances, Joe Turpel replaced by Shaun White, Jordy Smith proving all doubters wrong and you and me all commenting live, all open threading with our best friends.

More today, alongside the National Football League’s NFC and AFC championship games. Watch the World Surf League, though, here or here.

Chat with best friends below.

Jackie Robbo, king of Pipe, day one.

World champions Kelly Slater and John John Florence upstaged by young Australian at Billabong Pro Pipeline, “Jack Robinson was in an alternate dimension, flamboyantly emerging into the sunshine through spit so dense it might have been dry ice!”

"Pipe was spitting as hard as it gets today, and it would take a curious person not to appreciate the aesthetic joy in that."

The best ever Pipe conditions for a competition.

That was the presiding narrative.

Not, as you might expect, a typically hyperbolic claim from the WSL hype machine, but that of people who know, Ross Williams, Kelly Slater, Shane Dorian…

What do you reckon?

Regardless, the queerness of beginning at Pipe couldn’t temper enthusiasm in the Beachgrit live comments. We were ready for it. Nay, we were desperate for it. If pro surfing was a game of soggy biscuit, we were the grinning biscuits.

We’d ejaculated 1001 comments as Heat 5 was ending. A frantic pace that spoke of our aching need for the return of organised, professional surfing.

But they test us, the WSL, they do.

More on this to follow, but first: surfing.

We couldn’t have asked for a better start: Heat 1, wave 1, Owen Wright. A deep and technical Pipe wave that elicited girlish shrieks from me and likely you. My dog leapt anxiously to his feet, knowing something momentous had happened. I wasn’t ready for it and neither were the judges.


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“10 for Owen’s opener?!” I scribbled hastily, knowing full well they couldn’t give it, but certain of a high 9.

7.17 was awarded for the most egregious underscore of the day that baffled the scale right from the off.

Look at it again, I implore you.

The broadcast was stunned into literal silence whilst fans at home howled in derision. The silence was thick with tension. The technical glitch felt like eerie foreshadowing.

When the sound came back we had missed the score and the pundit’s reaction, though Ross Williams (who was worth a solid 14 point heat total all day for his commentary) was clearly staggered. He noted the double hand drag and overall technicality. “In my eyes that was a huge score” was his insufficient conclusion, in a tone more confused than tentative.

Though the scale was clearly bonkers, at least the right surfer advanced. A win for Owen was deserved and of personal value to me.

On any other day we might still be talking about this initial scoring error, but we were to witness a fine day of professional surfing, marred only by traditionally inept commentary and inexplicable production decisions.

But try as they might, even the WSL couldn’t fuck this up, noted SurfAds in the effervescent BG live commentary.

The sideshow in the first heat of the day was Jordy Smith and Ultimate Surfer, Zeke Lau, playing an amusing game of Who’s Learned Least on Tour.

Jordy battled for his 0.17, before being trumped by Zeke with his buzzer beater 2.5, giving rise to the first claim of 2022.

Jordy was to banish his demons in the elimination round by claiming the best Pipe wave he’s ever had and the best score of the day.

I like Jordy, I do, and he should absolutely be commended for developing his surfing in hollow lefts, but I still wouldn’t back him for anything other than a decent company for a night on the piss.

The scores were skewed for the next few heats, but were gradually adjusted to something recognisable in subtle, almost Orwelian fashion.

Which reminds me, has there been a Snowball-esque disappearance of our beloved Joe Turpel? Has he been quietly led down to the far pasture and chased through a hole in the hedge in the same way Martin Potter was?

If there was mention of his whereabouts I didn’t hear it.

And you know what, reader? I think I missed him. Mainly because I see no redeeming features in Kaipo as an anchor. I can’t get on board. Pumping Madonna is commendable, but you can’t trade on that forever.

There were some low scoring heats as the morning and the swell filled in, before Barron Mamiya exuded confidence and authority at a wave he knows well, posting a pair of solid 8s that were hard to disagree with.

Top seeds Italo and Filipe advanced in relatively unspectacular fashion.

Ivan Florence was of personal and financial disappointment to myself and many others in Rd1. An apparent gift of a draw against little Sammy Pupo and littler Filipe Toledo, a surfer with all the composure of wet cardboard at Pipe, seemed like a shoe in for the local boy.

But an appalling 0.23 heat TOTAL surely left him questioning his genetics and life choices.

Thankfully, he didn’t retire to the skatepark and instead showed significantly more local competence to advance through the losers round.

The major blot on his copybook was Kaipo feeling it necessary to give us his list of surfers who can also ride a skateboard. Fascinating, Kaipo, truly. But I’d be every bit as interested in a list of surfers who can bake a moist victoria sponge. That is to say, I couldn’t care less.

JJF was pushed by impressive rookie Joao Chianca but ultimately threw the hammer down with a style that spoke of both confidence and hunger. Teasing. A motivated John might just paper over some Medina-shaped cracks.

However, he was to be rampantly upstaged by Jack Robinson, who spent a significant portion of his heat in an alternate dimension. He conjured tube exits like a stage magician, flamboyantly swishing his cloak and emerging into the sunshine through spit so dense it might have been dry ice.


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Even at this early stage, I can imagine no finer duel in solid Pipe than Jack Robinson and John Florence.

Kelly chose to zig while everyone else was zagging and opted for Backdoor. His waves were worthy of victory in almost every other heat. I noted the length of his board, which seemed longer than we’re used to and looked good for it. In his (maybe) final year we may see less experimentation and more equipment of a more traditional mould. I hope so. If the waves stay solid, so will he.

Pipe was spitting as hard as it gets today, and it would take a curious person not to appreciate the aesthetic joy in that. The surfing was superb, and surely that’s all that matters.

But that’s not the whole story, is it?

As is our wont as human beings, we are compelled by misfortune, schadenfreude, and bleak, grim tragedy.

The WSL provides a platform to exorcise these quirks in our nature, and we do love to hate it.

I told myself that I wouldn’t descend into slander of the WSL, not least because it’s a well trodden path. But I’d be remiss in my duties if I didn’t report the facts. And if those facts reflect poorly on the WSL, well…

Aside from Ross Williams and some classic one liners, the overall commentary was bland at best and grating at worst.

Williams took his role as colour guy seriously. He claimed surfing Pipe was “like staring a cobra in the face”.

On Callum Robson – “he should be sponsored by UPS, because he’s packing it out there.”

And I appreciated the Freudian slip in the final heat of Rd 1 – “a lot of shite names on Tour”, he said, trying to say there were a lot of “bright, shiny” names, his argument being that we perhaps forget about surfers like Deivid Silva.

He was right the first time.

It’s a pity WSL commentators don’t work in a consistent non-elimination situation, because Makua Rothman was combo’d by basic rhetoric within minutes.

“Helmets period.” was all he could manage when asked for his opinion on whether surfers should wear helmets.

Chis Cote and Rosie Hodge were dressed like schizophrenia. (Dear, sweet Rosie – sorry).

Cote called an approaching set “a huge, aquatic anomaly”, which is so shit I almost love it.

Kaipo started acceptably but was soon tongue tied by basic vowel sounds.

I lost count of the number of times he said it was time to “step out” right in the middle of heats. How many waves did we miss?

What other elite sporting competition cuts away from live action for adverts and weird segments? They’re clearly terrified of the dead air that has often plagued pro surfing, but there’s work to be done in terms of how they do it. A pro pundit worth his or her salt would solve all problems.

ELO came in and dished up his speciality: a layered word salad of wet, corporate shite. Though I did enjoy his sign off. There was the patented, disingenuous “buddy” followed by uncertainty of how to praise Kaipo: “Good to see you Kaipo. Appreciate…appreciate everything…”

But by far the strangest and most ill conceived production decision was the appearance of snowboarder Shaun White during John Florence’s heat.

White, resplendent in official USA Olympic gear, was there to promote his new brand “White Space”, apparently.

It was a confusing few moments.

The BG comment section was apoplectic.

We squinted at the broadcast, trying to see the the best surfer in the competition who had been relegated to the miniplayer in the corner as he surfed live at his home break, at perhaps the most iconic wave in the world, on maybe the best day ever for competition, as we listened to a snowboarder talk shite about his new brand.

It was a production decision to confound all production decisions.

But these errors are what we’ve come to expect, and perhaps even enjoy. The WSL is back, the waves and the surfing were all time, and we love it really.

Roll on tomorrow.

Round One

Heat 1: Owen Wright DEF Zeke Lau DEF Jordy Smith

Heat 2: Griffin Cola DEF Matt McGill DEF Jordy Lawler

Heat 3: Connor O’Leary DEF Caio Ibelli DEF Morgan Cibilic

Heat 4: Barron Mamiya DEF Connor Coffin DEF Jake Marshall

Heat 5: Italo Ferreira DEF Callum Robson DEF Miguel Tudela

Heat 6: Felipe Toledo DEF Samuel Pupo DEF Ivan Florence

Heat 7: Seth Moniz DEF Kanoa Igarashi DEF Carlos Muñoz

Heat 8: Jackson Baker DEF Miguel Pupo DEF Frederico Morais

Heat 9: John Florence DEF Joao Chianca DEF Jadson Andre

Heat 10: Jack Robinson DEF Kelly Slater DEF Lucca Messinas

Heat 11: Ethan Ewing DEF Kolohe Andino DEF Imai Kalani Devault

Heat 12: Nat Young DEF Leo Fioravanti DEF Deivid Silva

Elimination Round

Heat 1: Ivan Florence DEF Lucca Messinas DEF Morgan Cibilic

Heat 2: Jordy Smith DEF Miguel Tudela DEF Imaikalani Devault

Heat 3: Jake Marshall DEF Frederico Morais DEF Jordy Lawler

Heat 4: Carlos Muñoz DEF Deivid Silva DEF Jadson Andre

Brunet and Medina in happier times at the lavish beachfront compound.

World surfing champion Gabriel Medina lists lavish beachfront compound for $US1.5 million following collapse of marriage to model Yasmin Brunet!

Sudden divorces make for real estate bargains… 

The three-time champ Gabriel Medina has listed his swank beachfront mansion, complete with swimming pool and sauna, following his withdrawal from the tour’s opening event and split from wife, the Sports Illustrated model Yasmin Brunet. 

The five-bed, six-bathroom joint is at Maresias, one of the prettiest beaches in Brazil, a five-click stretch of yellowish sand and lightly shadowed by mountains, one hundred miles from Sao Paulo city.

Medina, twenty-eight and with eyes so dark they look like they’ve been stolen off a gingerbread man’s face, moved out of the house after the split.

According to Brazil media, Brunet, who is thirty-three, refused to leave and put towels over the security cameras so no one could see what she was doing. Allegedly etc. 

The house is for sale for eight-mill Brazilian reais, around one-and-a-half mill US, occupies a couple thousand square feet of floor space, has a pool, sauna and comes furnished.

Five days ago, Medina cited “emotional issues” for tapping out of the tour’s opening event, the Billabong Pro Pipeline. 

“Recognizing and admitting to myself that I’m not well has been a very difficult process and choosing to take time to take care of myself was perhaps the hardest decision I’ve ever made in my entire life,” Medina wrote on Instagram. “I’ve wondered a lot lately if I should make this public or keep it private, but it’s only fair that all of you who have always rooted for me know the moment I’m facing. Mental health is very important. I need to be 100% mentally to compete again.”

It’s been a wild couple of years for Medina who became estranged from his mama Simone and step-daddy Charlie over his marriage to Brunet.

The feud went nuclear a few months ago with Simone’s allegations of a wild sex tape of a real young Brunet from a drunken party in Rio. 

Ironically, despite everything, Medina had never seemed happier.

Gone were the flashing glances, the disagreeable tone, the tears etc.

He even reunited with his real daddy, Claudinho, and moved him into one of his houses.

Photos of the joint are pretty rough, maybe ‘cause it’s a hurried sale etc. 


Open Thread: Comment Live, Day One of the Billabong Pro Pipeline!

Professional surfing is back!

Well, the jig appears to be up. The World Surf League has officially restricted embedding of their many fine events but not to worry. We here, we Bitchy Crabs, are highly inventive and so, just like in years’ past, open a new tab (YouTube here) (World Surf League here) and comment with your true friends below on this first day of the Billabong Pro Pipeline (née Masters).

Bang (pictured) going for broke.
Bang (pictured) going for broke.

Yesterday I watched safety surfing die in front of my very eyes and I will never be the same again!

Rot in peace.

As you may, or may not, know, I am currently in Jackson Hole, Wyoming where the snowboard spectacular Natural Selection’s first stop just yesterday wrapped.

Oh it was all absolutely phenomenal but the thing that blew me away, that stopped me in my very tracks and forever rendered me a changed man, was watching, with my own two eyes, the death of safety surfing.

It all happened in quarterfinal heat number three between Norwegian dreamboat Mikkel Bang and Jackson Hole’s own Blake Paul and let me give you a quick recap borrowed from the fine Australian snowboard institution Transfer.

We, my daughter and I, fell into our Yeti chairs in the VIP tent as Mikkel dropped in, throwing hammers but also coming undone. Jackson Hole’s other own, Blake Paul, followed with an inspiring run. Paul had been hot all contest, flowing from feature to feature, dancing amongst the trees, and he bettered Bang by a score of 88.0 to 64.3. A lonely tear rolled down my daughter’s cheek and maybe my wife’s, who was in the competitor’s area.

My eyes were only hot, furiously blinking.

Mikkel took the second of two runs, barely, which meant a third and on their tie-breaking go Mikkel went equally big, magically big, though fell once more.

Paul went soft, back flipping off the first kicker, maybe throwing a grab somewhere down the mountain, maybe twisting a 360 somewhere else.

We call this “safety surfing” in my world and it is always rewarded. Not falling means winning.


And I assumed Paul would win here, too, but wait?


I rubbed my hot and blinking eyes as the scores flashed on the screen. Mikkel Bang 88.6. Blake Paul 65.6

Commentator Salema Masekela sounded confused, as he calls too much surfing and enjoys that sort of lame, but I was jumping up and down, heart out of chest, having witnessed the death of conservatism.

I woke up this morning still not believing and so want to grab this Natural Selection format and ram it into surfing. Or ram surfing into it.

David Lee and I spoke about this, anyhow, and about having a Da Hui like Shootout made up purely of BeachGrit commenters.

Who would you choose to be on your team?

Listen here.